Olympic coaching legend Jurgen Grobler to retire after Tokyo 2020

The 72-year-old has helped teams to 22 gold medals, 33 in total, over his career

Matt Murphy
Tuesday 23 July 2019 23:00
Most successful coach in Olympic history Jurgen Grobler to retire in 2020

Jurgen Grobler, the most successful coach in Olympic history, has confirmed that he will retire after Tokyo 2020.

The 72-year-old has helped teams to 22 gold medals, 33 in total, over his career, most of which has been spent leading the Team GB men’s rowing squad.

Grobler has guided the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell to glory since he arrived in the UK in 1990. His teams have also topped the podium in every games he’s attended for the last 40 years.

“I think after 2020… I think then I slide out,” he admitted to The Independent. “I don’t want to be carried out with a bar. If you get a little bit older you have to be honest.

“I want to succeed, but it’s not so much what I do. I want to do it with the athletes, with the team. We want to be successful. My thinking at the end of the day is not important. If the team is successful and can carry on [after me] that’s fantastic. And [an admirable legacy] would be even 10 times better.”

Before Team GB, Grobler coached both men and women’s sides in East Germany, winning a medal at every games apart from 1984, as his team boycotted the event.

Grobler has acknowledged that with his final Olympics comes a particularly mountainous challenge. After Rio 2016, only three of the men’s 12 gold medallists remained due to retirement. Though he’s coached several generations of champions, this will hardly be a smooth finish to his career.

As of January, he has doubled his workload in also coaching the women’s team. They have suffered losses since Rio too, with Helen Glover, Heather Stanning and Katherine Grainger all hanging up their oars.

“People are expecting success, but it’s not always quite as easy,” says Grobler, “more insider can understand how it works. If you lose Andy Murray you can’t straight away replace him, or a top football player, the team is also a little bit different.

“I think we have the ambition to come back [and succeed] with those athletes. They have the heart, the will to do it. They want to work on our tradition, and our tradition was always having also success. So I think we are on a good way, but it takes a little bit of time.”

Read the full interview here. This was made possible by SAS, the official analytics partner of British Rowing. Further information at www.sas.com

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